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Sarah Olson

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Sarah Olson is a "technical writer, radio producer and independent journalist based in Oakland, CA. She has been a regular contributor to Pacifica Radio, Free Speech Radio (web) and San Francisco Liberation Radio. She is a New Hampshire native, and majored in women’s studies at Simmons College in Boston." [1]

In May 2006, she interviewed First Lieutenant Ehren Watada. "In the interview, he asserted that it is his duty as an officer to evaluate the legality of his orders. He said that he could not participate in the Iraq War because it was 'manifestly illegal' and that it would make him a party to war crimes." [2]

A few weeks later, Watada refused to go to Iraq. "In June 2006, Lt. Watada made national headlines when he refused to deploy to Iraq. A court-martial has been convened with one count of 'missing movement' and four counts of 'conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.' Each of the latter four charges is based entirely on political speech. Lt. Watada’s court-martial is scheduled to begin on February 5, 2007. If convicted, Lt. Watada could spend up to six years in prison.

"The Army selected portions of Sarah’s interview to comprise one of the charges of 'conduct unbecoming.' Army Prosecutors claim they need to subpoena Sarah to testify as a prosecution witness to substantiate that charge." [3]

"The military's willingness to subpoena journalists is wrongheaded and ominous," Olson said. "It's a reporter's job to report the news. It's not a reporter's job to participate in the prosecution of ... sources. Once you involve a reporter in prosecution, you turn that reporter into the investigative arm of the government."

In mid-December 2006, Olson was served with a subpoena to give evidence in Watada's court martial. The military has also subpoenaed Gregg Kakesako, the military affairs reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and has listed freelance journalist Dahr Jamail, despite his objections, as a prosecution witness in the case.

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